The Horry County Board of Education will consider investing nearly $1 million dollars annually towards new school buses.
Monday night, the board of education met to discuss the new budget for the district.
One of the new items being considered is adding buses to the county's fleet.
“You can maintain and coax and keep the bus rolling, but I think as you add years, the older ones suffer from more breakdowns,” said Rick Maxey, Chief Officer for Support Services with Horry County Schools.
According to Maxey's reports that he presented to the board Monday night, since 2003, the number of riders on Horry County school buses has nearly doubled from 12,000 to 22,000.
Maxey is suggesting the board consider setting a standard age limit for busses.
“To reduce the number of times that we have breakdowns with buses and repairs, we think 15 would be the optimum age for a bus fleet,” he said.
In 2002, The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services agreed with that number. (Link to document: http://mgtvwbtw.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/paper-busreplacement.pdf)
They recommend a bus be replaced at least at the 15 year mark or at 250,000 miles.
Currently, of the 46 district owned buses that transport students to and from schools, 35 are over that recommendation; at 20 years old or older.
Maxey says he is unaware of any standards set for bus age limits.
He says because of regular maintenance, buses are still running fine after 2 decades.
“We have our mechanics and drivers inspecting buses on a daily basis there is regular services provided to the buses. I think it's that attention to detail that can prolong the life,” said Maxey.
He says even though there have not been any problems; they still look for a change.
Maxey proposed the board invest about a million dollars each year until 2019 to get Horry County's bus fleet's age under 15 years.
Monday night's meeting was only preliminary talks and no decisions will be made for months.
John Gardner, Horry County Schools Chief Financial Officer, says the school district is still waiting to hear how much additional state funding, if any, they will receive.
Horry County Board of Education Chairman, Joe Defeo, says the board will make a final vote on the budget in June.